To the Editor:
In response to the request by Newport resident Ken Nomiyama in the Oct. 13 edition of Newport This Week to hear directly from candidates on the possibilities of regionalization, my reply is yes, I support regionalization.
At its core it is a regionalization of the administration of the two schools. Newport will receive $46 million paid over the life of the bond that was passed to build a new Rogers High School and to add a new addition to Pell School. The $46 million will be paid to Newport from the state twice a year at $900,000 for a total of $1.8 million per year and the property taxes will be adjusted accordingly. Going forward, Newport will receive 67 percent state reimbursement if a boiler needs replacing or on any new capital projects. We will also receive annual savings for combining the administration through economies of scale.
Some argue that it’s about the money, but education and money go hand in hand. Can we adequately educate our children without adequate funding? The simple answer is NO. Some also say let’s wait a year or two to regionalize, but once Rogers is completed in September of 2024, we will get nothing more towards our bond if we regionalize after that date.
I have not heard a single argument against regionalization that suggests that the students in the Newport schools will be hurt by regionalization. No one is suggesting that the test scores will go down, absenteeism will go up or that we will see a drop in the graduation rate. We have already combined with Middletown in theatre, hockey, art shows and even teacher training.
Middletown is our neighbor. We drink the same water. We drive on the same roads, and we eat in the same restaurants. For those who are upset with the way we were treated years ago by a different Middletown Town Council, I ask “do we want to do the same thing to them that they did to us and deprive Middletown children of a 1st class learning environment and a better level of education out of spite?”
If regionalization passes, then the School Committee that I sit on will be dissolved on June 30, 2024, and a new combined Newport and Middletown School Committee will take over at that point. I am not advocating for passage of regionalization for my own benefit; I am doing it because I believe that it’s the right thing to do for the students as it will provide them with an opportunity for a better education and more beneficial programs. We will not have all the answers until the new school committee takes over on July 1, 2024, but we need to have confidence that the new committee will do what’s right for the students. Why wouldn’t they? We need to take advantage of the savings and have faith that the new School Committee will do the right thing.
If elected to another term, I will do my best to represent you and especially our students.
Jim Dring Newport